Ed Hawkins says world No 1 India are under pressure at the Hagley Oval from Friday night...
"Tom Latham, on his home ground, has most runs of any player at the Hagley Oval with 475 in six matches. He gets a 7/2 quote from Betfair Sportsbook for top Kiwi bat"
New Zealand v India
Friday 28 February 22.30
TV: live on Sky Sports
Wagner to return
New Zealand hammered India by ten wickets in Wellington and celebrated with a limo ride to the top of Mount Victoria. Another success here and they might fancy the gondola ride to the top of Port Hills. Feeling on top of the world would be apt after downing the world No 1.
It has to be said they were grateful for winning the toss and bowling first at the Basin Reserve. We have consistently said this series (first Test preview and Cricket...Only Bettor: 17) that New Zealand bucks the worldwide trend for Test being won by the team batting first. It's now 12 wins and three defeats for the side bowling first since 2016.
Neil Wagner, who missed game one to be at the birth of his first child, returns to the squad. This provides the Kiwis with a dilemma. Do they drop spinner Ajaz Patel? Or is Kyle Jamieson, sensational on debut, reminded of his place in the pecking order?
Probable XI Latham, Blundell, Williamson, Taylor, Nicholls, Watling, De Grandhomme, Jamieson, Southee, Wagner, Boult
India show no fight
India are suitably chastened. The toss going against them or not, they still produced a stinker of an effort at the Basin Reserve.
It was a return to the bad old days of Indian touring sides looking inept against a seaming and swinging ball. Scores of 165 and 191 more than hint of a lack of stomach for the fight. Certainly they should have been able to show more stickability in their second innings.
The decision to play Rish Pant instead of Wriddi Saha gave an insight into the mindset. They preferred swashbuckler to solid at No 7. Might not be a bad idea to reverse that. Otherwise India are likely to be unchanged.
Ishant Sharma, five wickets in the first dig, and Ajinkya Rahane with a 138-ball 46 were the only tourists to emerge with credit.
Probable XI Shaw, Agarwal, Pujara, Kohli, Rahane, Vihari, Saha, Ashwin, Sharma, Shami, Bumrah
Asian sides struggle
In the six Tests played at the Hagley Oval, three have been won by the side bowling first with one draw. The first-innings scores in those six (1-2 denote match won by side batting first or second, most recent first) read: 178-1/307-d/289-2/133-2/370-2/441-1.
What will worry India is the struggles their Asian neighbours have had. Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have all struggled. Only Bangladesh passed 250 in either first- or second innings.
It's not a wicket, then, to expect to produce plenty of runs and taking short prices to lay upwards of 300 looks to be a wise tactic in the first-innings.
This week's episode of Cricket...Only Bettor asks: what's wrong with Virat Kohli?
Remember, Kiwis don't need the win
The match odds market appears to be waiting for the toss to take a definitive view - New Zealand are narrow [2.34] favourites with India [2.36]. The draw is [6.40].
Regardless of what happens at the flip we do have to bear in mind that New Zealand don't have to win the game to take the series. With the bat they will quite happily make sure they don't lose it, before trying to win it. Not that the Hagley Oval wicket may afford them the opportunity to bat time, of course.
No doubt, though, they will bowl first if they win the toss. That puts India in peril. It's not unwise to consider a wager on the Kiwis in that case at around the [2.10] mark. So far, the weather forecast is good. There are showers forecast only on the final day.
Ashwin's price tempting for top bat
Tom Latham, on his home ground, has most runs of any player at the Hagley Oval with 475 in six matches. He gets a 7/2 quote from Betfair Sportsbook for top Kiwi bat. Kane Williamson, who top scored in Wellington, is the 5/2 favourite but he has a modest record at the venue, averaging just 32. The price that catches the eye is the 6/1 about Henry Nicholls. Nicholls plays his home cricket there, too and has 313 runs in five innings.
Virat Kohli has personified India's malaise with the bat. He's yet to pass fifty all tour. Sportsbook go 9/4 for top India bat. Rahane is 6/1 for back-to-back wins. If the top order is blown away, Ashwin may need to launch a rescue bid. The 25/1 is tempting.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l
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Lay side batting first 325 or more innings runs at [2.10] (1pt)